It's always a shame to be pipped to the post for an award, but, as Peter Hancock says, the real reward is the heightened standard across the industry
Winning an award, especially in full view of a large gathering of one's peers, can be a truly exhilarating experience. At the risk of boasting shamelessly, it happened to me recently when the Institute of Hospitality very kindly presented their ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Industry' award to your aged correspondent. And, of course, we all congratulate this year's splendid batch of Catey winners, whose identity was still a closely guarded secret at the time of writing this piece.
If you have ever served as a judge, you'll know how decisions can sometimes be balanced on a knife edge, with stupendously worthy candidates missing out on the recognition they deserve just because another nomination is slightly better worded or because their rival's champion on the panel is especially persuasive. At times like this, I feel dreadfully sorry for the runners up. The only consolation is usually the prospect of another chance next year. It puts me in mind of the Olympic silver medallist who proudly showed her gong at a family party and a rather tactless guest said, "So, what did you do wrong?" The harsh truth is that if Cateys, Oscars and gold medals were handed out more freely, they would have little value. It is the rarity that makes them special.
As an occasional awards event host myself, I have witnessed many times the excitement that can result simply from being shortlisted. Whoops and cries ensue at the mere mention of the business name and it can take winners quite a while to extract themselves from the embrace of their colleagues before reaching the stage. It is wonderful when this happens.
Of course, we all know individuals and properties that have missed out on important accolades and, similarly, we can probably name one or two that have perhaps been over-rewarded. But the mere fact that we celebrate success so enthusiastically helps to drive standards upwards and improves the performance of the hospitality sector as a whole. In this sense, everybody wins something, because we're all dragged along by a collective quest for excellence.
Can the same be said of politics? There is certainly a scrabble for the top jobs, though not everybody applauds the winners. In Parliament, members are segregated into tribal factions who often loathe each other. How lucky we are to be able to enjoy genuine friendships with our competitors, even to collaborate through shared membership of associations.
The only losers in our trade are the people who fail to recognise a great opportunity when they see it, and who drift into other sectors where the likelihood of being cheered to the rafters is considerably smaller.
Peter Hancock is chief executive at Pride of Britain Hotels
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